Questioning the Yin Yang

It has been said, since ancient times, for every yin, there is a yang, for every man—a woman, for every darkness—a light, for every wrong—a right. But is this true, do you believe it?

The concept of Yin Yang is rooted in Chinese philosophy. It is used to describe how polar or seemingly contrary forces are interconnected and interdependent in the natural world, and how they give rise to each other in turn. Many natural dualities — e.g. dark and light, female and male, low and high, cold and hot — are thought of as manifestations of yin and yang. So in essence, “Yin yang are complementary opposites that interact within a greater whole, as part of a dynamic system. Everything has both yin and yang aspects,…”

The intention here is not to ramble incessantly about the philosophical aspect of yin yang but rather to transpose the concept into our day-to-day lives and, more specifically, male-female interactions. You may have heard the following expressions: “for every man there is a woman.” “Each of us has a soul mate.” Some believe in these assertions, especially those who have an affinity for natural love and affection, and good relations.

However, some questions to be asked of these complementary opposites are: Once they have connected are they inseparable? And if they do separate, does this mean that the yin had not really truly connected with the yang? And what about their forces, are they opposite but equal, or is there a dichotomy?

In male-female relationships, people tend to talk about finding or being with their soul mates. Having found their “soul mates,” some of these couples go on to being married or together for their entire lives thereafter—kind of like the happily-ever-after you read about in fairytale books or see on tv.

But there are others who don’t make it that far. However, they probably would have experienced one of the most pleasurable relationships of their life, leaving them to believe that they had indeed found their soul mate. Because of this, a person may be shattered to find out that this experience is short lived while others may embrace it, going with the conclusion that to meet one’s soul mate is not to necessarily physically stay with them forever. In other words, although yin and yang offers a view into the ‘perfect’ combination of two opposites fusing together to form a complementary whole, there are no guarantees that they will remain fused.

What we get from this is a reemphasis that nothing is absolute. Everything about human existence revolves around circumstances. Perhaps, there is more to embracing yin yang opportunities, whether they are relationship or non-relational aspects, than to hold to the mistaken belief that fusion is inseparable.

In terms of whether yin and yang forces are equal, unequal or dichotomous, we can look at the usual level of power and interaction between man and woman. The symbol of the yin yang shows two equal pieces, meshed together in what seems to be perfect unison. One side is light and the other side dark. Does this automatically mean that when it comes to relationships one person wields more power than the other, simply by the color representation of yin and yang? Or is it because each piece is of equal proportion the suggestion of equality is obvious? These physical representations mean something, though it is based on our own individual perception and interpretation that we act accordingly.

However, when the yin yang philosophy is taken in the context of, for example, light and darkness, the automatic response may be that light is greater than darkness—like good over evil (another set of complementary opposites). Then there are the concepts of right and wrong. Is it true that there is a right for every wrong? You must have seen many wrongs go unpunished. This does not necessarily mean that there is no right. What this latter observation shows is an anomaly in the yin yang theory. It shows that the complementary opposites are not necessarily closely and physically coexisting with each other, and can nonetheless be effective from separate places. Bet you never thought about that.

Bring up a picture of the yin yang symbol and take a closer look. What do you see? What is your first impression? What does the yin yang really say? And if you do believe in this ancient Chinese philosophy, let it be asked: have you found your YANG?

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